Monday, December 12, 2011

Stop Dreaming, You'll Never Get Married

Some of us singles are beginning to think that way. Marriage has become imaginary for many of us. It's in a galaxy far, far away, something that only happens in movies or for the lucky few who find that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It seems like there should be more of us getting married but we're not. And then there's that nagging feeling that maybe your destiny is closer than you think. Maybe she is across the coffee shop right now. Maybe, she is looking at you and wondering the same thing.

I have to admit there are some fairly paradoxical Scriptures about the vision for marriage. For instance "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church" but then there is "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife. . . then he cannot be My disciple." Here's another biblical paradox, in one place it says "It is better for a man not to marry" and yet elsewhere it says "He who finds a wife finds a good thing." Ok. . .so I could probably contextualize these scriptures in a way that brings comfort and clarity, but I want to let the tension linger a little.

The point is that marriage and love seem to be messier than most people care to admit. There are so many cute cliches about marriage and about what to look for and what to expect and how it works, and now we as singles are left peering into bottomless idealism. People tend to exagerate things when they talk about something that other people haven't experienced. I have to laugh when I hear someone talking about how being a Christian is "one big, amazing rollercoaster of an adventure!" Maybe they live in Christian Candyland, but I don't. In the real world, I've found that the Christian journey is, for the most part, a series of gritty conversations, conversations with God and conversations with people about God. It's intriguing and fun, but not exactly a non-stop sugar-high. Not only do we glamorize but we can't help but organize. In our minds, we organize the way that things should be and will be, and when things are not that way then we think that something has gone wrong. But maybe we had the wrong expectations in the first place.

Likewise, marriage has become so idealized and organized in our young minds that reality can't seem to measure up. I'm trying something new. I'm trying to imagine myself married and placing myself in very ordinary scenarios. For instance, imagining myself cleaning the house or grocery shopping with my wife. It doesn't sound very fun, but it sounds real. I am also imagining life's hiccups within the context of marriage, like getting a flat tire on the way to church, or one of us getting sick for a week. Sure, there will be romantic date nights and fun get-aways, but there will also be the mundane, the occasional boredom, and the ever-present need for God's hopeful light in the valley. I'm leaving room for the reality that marriage will be different than how I've organized it in my mind. Everything else in my life has defied my expectations, so marriage will probably follow suit. The reality of marriage will constantly challenge the way I think marriage should be. It will go left when it's supposed to go right. Life is like that. Sometimes, it rains on Christmas when it's supposed to snow. But who says it's supposed to snow? Who's making these rules for Christmas and marriage and the way things are supposed to be? Maybe we are. We are all like Pharisees who take a few good principles and turn them into stiff, lifeless rituals. I don't want a marriage like that, I want a marriage that breathes and sometimes bleeds because it is alive.